This question was asked by our members "How should I use LinkedIn for business as a Sales Manager and/or sales person?" Following are some ideas on how you can use LinkedIn to help you sell.
First, lets start with a LinkedIN Definition:
LinkedIn is a business networking website that boasts an impressive 70 million professional users that aim to exchange information and share ideas and opportunities with one another. LinkedIn gives companies and industry professionals the ability to make new business contacts and keep in touch with previous co-workers, clients and business associates.Members of LinkedIn.com can create personalized profiles that detail their education information, employment history, professional accomplishments and more.
FOLLOW ARE SOME IDEAS ON HOW TO USE LINKEDIN FOR SALES
The first step is to create your own customized profile that details your employment history, business accomplishments, and other professional accolades. Be sure to upload a picture of yourself.
Here is a link to do this:
Next make sure you have a Company Page set up. Here is the link to do this as it is a little hard to find:
Next you need to invite people to connect with you. Start with your customers and prospects. I suggest that you invite only business people. Use Facebook to talk to friends and relatives. Go to the "CONTACTS" tab across the top of your Profile Page. LinkedIN will make suggestions of people you might know based on where you have worked previously. You can also do a search by name or company using the search bar in the upper right hand side of your Profile Page.
You can use LinkedIn to stay in touch and front of mind with your contacts by regularly updating your status box, which appears directly underneath your basic profile information. This box functions like a real-time Twitter update and has a 140-character limit. Use it to report on events, promotions, and customer successes.
For example, post messages highlighting customer results with your product, like this:
“XYZ reported a 20% increase in production after one year of using ABC product" or "ABC welcomes XYZ as a our newest customer" or "ABC is hosting a seminar on Oct 5 to help..."
When you update your status box, an e-mail is automatically sent to your connections through LinkedIn Network Updates, which drive people to check out your profile.
Another idea is to include a short SlideShare presentation that succinctly describes how your offering helps clients increase their results. Here is a link to this app so you can add it to your Profile.
You can also use LinkedIn social networking to stay connected to customers who had changed jobs or moved to a different company. You can learn of these job changes through LinkedIn Messages if/when the customer updates his/her profile. Once aware of the change you can request an introduction (via LinkedIn, of course) to the person at the new company.
It is also important to join a couple professional Groups within LinkedIn and then participate in the conversation. WARNING: Never use groups as a commercial for your product. Rather present yourself as an expert by sharing your perspective on the questions being posted. If you post a response ib 1 -2X questions a week, that is enough to start with. LinkedIN makes this easy. When you join a group, you will be asked whether you want to receive updates daily or weekly. I recommend weekly so you don't fill up your inbox. Each week you will be emailed a summary of the active questions, and from there you simply click on the question you want to respond to.
If you are holding a seminar or conference, be sure to post it in the Events section of LinkedIn. Events can be found under the MORE tab.
Another fun thing to do is use Company Buzz. It is located under the MORE tab. You can input your company name, your own name, a prospect's name etc. and read all the posts about the person or company. If is a fun way to prepare for a sales call.
On that note, always look at and research your prospect's profile before making your sales call. You might find that you have a hobby or college in common. It will also give you a rough idea of his/her responsibilities. If you click on the the name of the company, it often times shows you who else works for the same organization. This helps you find out who the decision makers really are.
One last idea is using introductions. If you have someone in your contact list that is connected to the person you are trying to meet, you can send your contact an email and ask him/her to introduce you. This can turn a cold call into a referral call.
Of course, LinkedIN is a great place to post job openings. You post this in your Profile status. Plus, all GROUPS have a jobs tab to post these opportunities.
LinkedIn is a very powerful tool and I have shared some basic ideas to get you started. I hope you found this helpful. Now.... go dip your toe into the world of social networking and see what it can do for you.
I would love it if you would share additional ideas on how you are using LinkedIn and other social site to help you sell.